Founder and CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk?, Brian Scudamore, Discusses His Story, Running a Company Remotely, Hiring, and More | Coronavirus Update May 20th

Founder and CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk?, Brian Scudamore, Discusses His Story, Running a Company Remotely, Hiring, and More | Coronavirus Update May 20th

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Posted by Ian H., President

May 21, 2020

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May 20, 2020 update quick update


Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard

is reporting 4,968,689 global cases with 326,515 lives lost and 1,885,535 recovered.

 In the US we are at 1,549,052 million US cases and 93,214 deaths with 294,312 recovered as of 3:32pm on May 20. 


In New York 16 hospitals will begin allowing visitors under a two-week pilot program that requires visitors to wear protective gear and have their temperatures taken. Welcome news for those with loved ones in the hospital. Additionally, Memorial Day events of up to 10 people will be allowed in New York. Governor Cuomo is warning residents not to be overly complacent, “if people get arrogant, people get cocky, or people get casual or people become undisciplined, you will see that infection rate go up.” New York has had more than 28,000 deaths from COVID-19, slightly less than a third of the US total.


Cruise lines continue to struggle as quarterly earnings from one of the largest cruise lines, Royal Caribbean were announced. The three major Cruise Lines, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line have had their stock prices drop 60 to 75% this year. However, if you start looking toward next year, the cruise industry is showing that bookings appear to be within historical ranges - people are still booking cruises.



There’s some really interesting and hopeful news out of Korea. A study of

recovered COVID-19 patients who tested positive

after recovering have been found to be incapable of transmitting coronavirus, and could have the antibodies that prevent them from getting it again. 



Some US colleges are making creative plans to reopen for in-person classes this fall. The University of Notre Dame, for example, plans on beginning classes August 10 and

ending the semester before Thanksgiving

, which would mean that students Don't have to travel home for Thanksgiving and then come back to school for finals before Christmas. New York University (NYU) is offering a

“Go Local” option

, which will allow students to attend the NYU campus closest to where they live. The University of Kentucky is considering several options to resume classes, including one that will allow

only freshmen and sophomores to return to campus

, while juniors and seniors will take classes online in order to reduce the number of students on campus.  

May 20 Topic: 

Special Guest:

Brian Scudamore 


What is the story of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

    • Was in a McDonald's parking lot, 18 years old looking for a way to pay for college

    • BOught a pickup truck for $700 to haul junk and put $1300 into it in repairs 

    • Paid for itself in a month

    • Ironically what funded college is what caused him to to drop out three years in 

    • Grew to $450M business across 4 countries

    • Dad who was a doctor was embarrassed and took some time

    • In early days it was 783-JUNK and had local numbers in each city and as they grew, knew they needed to consolidate so took a cue from the Got Milk campaign and went with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

      • Felt it was a lucky move

      • Reached out to find the phone number but couldn’t find the owner in Idaho, finally realized the Idaho transportation department owned it                     

O2E Brands

    • Taking ordinary brands to extraordinary, such as junk and painting

WTF, the acronym, can you explain this to our pros? What do you codify the acronym to be and where can our pros see opportunity there

    • Wrote a book

    • Roy WIlliams kept trying to convince Biran to write a book, so he interviewed me and they turned it into the book

      • Reall

    • WTF- willingness to fail

      • You look at business and realize what is going on

      • Every failure has gotten me to a bigger place

      • 5years into biz ½ m revenue, enjoyed what eh was doing but not who he was doing it with, had 11 employees and one bad apple that ruined it for the group and fired all 11/ Went from 5 trucks to zero employees

      • Business had to be rebuilt

      • Your biz is all about the people 

You talk about needing to make failure your friend, how do you overcome the financial consequences of failure?

    • The first thing he does when failure happens is remember that failure is your friend if you allow it and it is a gift. 

    • Look at the tough situation and look for the learning, look for how 

    • Take out a sheet of paper when you have the mental capacity to do this, and write down at least 1 thing that is good or even better that can come from these tough times

    • Change your lens to one of positivity and forward thinking

    • Looking at their daily practices and rethinking them. For example, their daily huddle on zoom is better than in person because all you see is faces, not backs, and introverted individuals are typing into Zoom that would otherwise stay quiet in person

    • The key is staying optimistic

What have you done to keep the culture alive and thriving when you aren’t able to interact face to face like you used to?

    • Trying to connect through Zoom as much as possible

    • The leadership team meets every morning on Zoom to disc their main focus

    • They used to do what they called “First Round Fridays'' in the office where different departments would buy a drink for each person at the company. They have adapted this to virtual by everyone sharing a drink over Zoom on Friday.

    • They have done a bring your kids to work day over Zoom

    • Really they are finding the ways to have fun as a team virtually over Zoom

    • Franchise partners, get together each week talking about challenges, how to get ready for road to recovery, how to build their skills as leaders and businesses during this time

The adoption of technology is happening at hyperspeed because of COVID-19

    • Seniors at home have had to learn how to order groceries, no longer a generational

    • Online booking for his brands keep climbing, less calls coming into call centers because it is easier and faster for for customers

    • It’s like airline travel, you no longer call a travel agent, you book tickets online and customers aren’t going back

You joined YEO (Young entrepreneur organization) - Can you talk about the importance of peer support and how do you seek and embrace this in a healthy way? 

    • When they hit 1M in revenue, it took them 8 years, he joined what was then called YEO, now EO. 

    • He loves to learn but doesn’t sit in a classroom well. This was his way to learn from others with shared interests in growing successful businesses. 

    • His mistake was he would look at these as other companies with $5,10, 20 million in revenue that were tech companies and it seemed so much better than Junk, and he started thinking he didn’t want to have a junk removal company anymore. This led him to a doom loop. He started comparing him to friends that seemed to have more success than him. But he took a step back and realize he is an optimistic person

    • Took out a piece of paper and wrote out his “Painted Picture” vision for the future for what the future could look and feel like in 5 years. 

      • He started writing pure possibilities, top 30 cities in NA, fedex of junk, on Oprah Winfrey show

      • Built a team and they did it

      • When you see the vision for the future, you make it happen

    • Success is never a straight line

What is something about you and about the business that would surprise our Pros?

    • Personally, he used to suffer from debilitating panic attacks and depression. He had to realize that he has other gifts that he could leverage. He’s a big ideas guy and has always been able to dream the big picture and then get other people to execute on his ideas.

    • Many people grow up trying to hide our weaknesses and only focus on strengths, but being vulnerable to your team is powerful ownership and creates a culture of empathy on the team.

Your most recent IG post is a throwback picture of you in your first real office! When you look at that guy, what is 1 piece of advice you would give him?

    • Don’t be afraid to fail. Know that you are going to make so many mistakes and each one is a learning opportunity and is going to make you better.

    • In the same way that COVID-19 is hard, everyone is scrambling and you must trust that we will get through this storm, there is a lot to be grateful for. 

Luck or Hard Work?

    • 50/50

    • They worked hard to get on Oprah but if their producer hadn’t read about us in the paper the day before, we probably wouldn't have gotten there, it’s a combination. 

What is the best book you have ever read?

Would you rather have more junk removal or painting companies?

    • From the perspective of what the market dictates, the painting business is way larger. They are painting jobs in one day that would have taken multiple days to paint with Wow 1 Day Painting and people have walls that they will need painted but they might not have junk.

Questions from The Audience

How do you handle hiring in an industry with traditionally so much turnover?

    • First of all their system is called beer and barbeque. Is this a person I would enjoy having a beer with and how would they fit in at a company barbeque or picnic.

    • Find out what motivates them, what are their life goals and dreams and how can the business help serve their life?

How difficult is it to franchise a business and at what point should a company consider franchising?

    • Michael Gerber inspired him to franchise in the first place through his book. He worked to build his business like a franchise with systems when it wasn’t a franchise yet. He systematized everything into best practices. 

    • You have to build a prospectus and register with state and federal government and it’s expensive

    • Most mistakes franchisors make are the wrong people with franchisees sue you and other issues.

    • He loves it because it takes people who want to start a business but don’t know where to start and he gives them the opportunity to grow and become successful. 

    • It took him 10 years to get to the point where he was ready, but if you haven’t built out all the systems and processes over 5 year time, you aren’t ready. People will only buy into what works and is proven.

What brand pillars are for your 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

    • People - first and foremost it’s about picking the right people. When you pick the right people they execute on your vision

    • Customer

    • Partners

How has the O2E brands implemented virtual estimates and what method works best?

    • It’s new to them, they are just starting to implement

    • Using Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, whatever is easiest for the customer

    • You get a sense for the person and their space

    • Virtual estimates are more about building the relationship and it’s more of a ballpark, rough idea of cost

Is it all junk? What about the treasures? What is the craziest thing you have hauled away?

    • 61.3% is the national number for recyclable items. They try to keep things out of the landfill

    • Some of the fun things they have found include: Clark Gables old piano, John Wayne’s old bible, a 5 carat diamond ring, a diffused WWII bomb, and his favorite, $400K in cash from 1932 found in old floorboards of a house being renovated. 

What is one thing our pros can do tomorrow to improve their business and life?

    • Take out a sheet of paper and write at the top WTF

    • What is the gift coming out of the failure right now? Write them out. 

    • What is going to happen that is going to make me a better leader, business owner, parent, whatever it is.

    • Go on social media and share your lists with Brian.

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Housecall Pro is offering the Coronavirus Evening Update for Home Service Businesses for informational purposes only and to foster thoughtful communication and discussion regarding the COVID-19 pandemic; Housecall Pro is not offering advisory services or otherwise advising or representing any members of the group invited to participate.  Housecall Pro is not offering legal, medical or other professional advice in the Coronavirus Evening Update and makes no representations or warranties regarding the content of the Coronavirus Evening Update.  Participants should obtain independent advice relating to their businesses and their particular circumstances.


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